on writing

My last post was actually supposed to contain a hilarious anecdote about my time living at that farmhouse with my dad and all the critters I had and how he helped me deal with the loss of pets as a child. But I got so caught up in the backstory that I never got there. This happens when I am telling stories. I like to just let the story create its own path organically without trying to force it in one direction or another. The problem with that is that sometimes I have my heart set on telling a certain story and then suddenly I’ve written a few thousand words and I am nowhere near my original path and there is no logical way to get back there. I guess that’s just what happens in writing, and I have read some articles lately that confirm this. I am starting to take this writing thing seriously, as it has been a passion of mine since I can remember. It’s just that being a writer as a profession isn’t the most pragmatic pursuit, and after living hand to mouth throughout my whole childhood and most of my twenties while I fought and fought to put myself through college, I was convinced that I should just let the dream of writing full-time die. It has felt good to revive that dream, and I have to be honest that it has been in large part due to friends pushing me to blog, not the least of which is the owner of Zoe Says. Were it not for being encouraged to get it together and get serious about blogging, I might not have actually gotten it together and gotten serious about blogging. I mean, I did let this thing sit dormant from December to August. Though, I think a sick and dying and ultimately dead parent plays a part in that. Plus a highly stressful job and other Life Things. But still. Why we as human beings let shrivel up the things that are truly important to us – the pursuits that fill us up with light and joy and energy and passion – while we toil away at the tasks that rob of us those very things is beyond me.

I feel called to write as much as I think anyone can feel called to something. There is a part of me that wishes I felt called to engineering or mathematics or being a doctor because, you know, money. But I recently read Tiny Beautiful Things, which was sent to me by one of my dearest and longest-lasting friends. She mailed it to me because the way the author discusses the grief at the premature loss of her mother resonated with my friend. In the book, author Cheryl Strayed discusses what it means to her to be a writer. She talks about the financial struggles that she and her husband face given that they are both artists, and she touches on how they press on regardless of the uncertainty of the future and without giving up and going back to a more sure thing like office work or teaching or whatever else. In fact, she doesn’t even mention doing anything else, that’s just me speculating on whatever else there is to do. There is nothing else, just their dreams, just their calling. This has given me hope where I had none before. This in addition to continuing to research the stories of other writers who persevered even against the grain of normalcy or tradition or status quo. As a youngster I watched both of my parents struggle to make ends meet. My mother was a gifted writer who always wanted to be published, but she had three mouths to feed and a boyfriend who couldn’t hold a job, and her dream got tucked away in a shoebox that contained the beautifully composed words of her heart. My dad’s dream was to not answer to anyone else, and he has largely managed to fulfill that dream. He works for himself now and he makes his own schedule, which allows him time to pursue the things that are most important to him.

Somewhere along the line I got caught up in thinking that passionate creativity and paying the bills were mutually exclusive concepts. Don’t worry, I am not even remotely saying that I plan to give up my job to pursue writing full time. Not by a long shot. Stressful though my job may be, I enjoy the certainty of being employed and earning a known wage. Maybe I will never be paid a cent for the words I string together, and that is okay. All I am saying is that I have resuscitated this belief that maybe I am talented enough to write something substantial. I have come to believe through your encouragement that what I have to say might be worth saying. The thing is, I feel like I have a zillion stories swirling around inside me, banging and battling to get out, but their worth is hard to calculate in a vacuum. I wonder, does anyone at all care to read a single word that I write? It is only now that I have spilled a handful of these myriad stories and you all have responded with kindness and support that I think perhaps my words are worthwhile. This is not to say that I write solely for an audience; on the contrary, through this fledgling journey I have already reinvigorated a fervor for simply writing, even just for myself. Parallel to this blog is me journaling, an activity I haven’t engaged in steadily for a decade.

What I am trying to say is thank you for reading this thing, and for restoring in me a belief that what I have to say might be valuable, even in some small way. Thank you for giving me the courage to recognize that writing is important to me, and it is an endeavor I wish to pursue, an activity that I can never allow to lie dormant again like I have for the past several years. Your encouragement means the world to me.

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